Insurer Anthem Strikes Deal for Palliative Care Company Aspire Health

National health insurance giant Anthem, Inc. (NYSE: ANTM) is buying Nashville-based Aspire Health, the nation’s largest non-hospice, community-based palliative care provider. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Anthem’s play for Aspire Health, announced Wednesday, is the latest deal to further blur the lines between insurance companies and in-home care businesses.

Humana (NYSE: HUM) and two private equity firms bought privately held hospice operator Curo Health Services for about $1.4 billion last month, while pharmacy chain CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) acquired Aetna (NYSE: AET) for about $69 billion last year. Humana and the same two firms are also acquiring a 40% stake in the home health and hospice segment of Kindred Healthcare (NYSE: KND).


The string of deals comes as insurers look to reduce costs by keeping patients at home and away from hospitals through more integrated operations along the continuum of care.

“Anthem is focused on enhancing our ability to offer innovative, integrated clinical care models that can improve the quality of healthcare and deliver better outcomes,” Anthem President and CEO Gail Boudreaux said in the announcement. “Aspire Health shares our perspective on the increasingly important role of integrated care and has built a unique model that provides palliative care and support services for patients and their families.”

Indianapolis-based Anthem and its affiliated companies provide products and services to more than 74 million people. Anthem’s Blue-licensed subsidiaries provide individual health benefits, life and disability products.


Aspire Health, co-founded in 2013 by Brad Smith and former U.S. Senator William Frist, currently provides services under contracts with more than 20 health plans to consumers in 25 states. Among its services, Aspire Health uses predictive algorithms to identify patient needs and, in turn, assign a team made up of physicians, nurses, social workers and chaplains who manage symptoms and coordinate care.

“Several studies have repeatedly demonstrated how advanced illness programs can provide high patient and family satisfaction, reduce hospitalization and decrease costs,” Smith, Aspire Health’s CEO, said. “As part of Anthem, we believe we will be able to further scale our model and positively impact the lives of even more consumers and families, making home-based advanced illness care available to patients who need it.”

Anthem’s acquisition of Aspire Health is expected to close in the third quarter. The transaction is projected to be neural to Anthem’s 2018 earnings and accretive come 2019, according to the company.

Written by Robert Holly

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